Posted by: smstrouse | November 27, 2010

Join the Advent Conspiracy: Better Than ‘Bah, Humbug!’

I’m a big fan of the Advent Conspiracy, if only for the wonderful juxtaposition of those two words. Advent is one of my favorite seasons in the church year, partly because it is so countercultural. It’s a way to say ‘Bah, humbug!’ without giving up the real wonder and meaning of it all.

The slogan on the  Advent Conspiracy website             ( is:Christmas can still change the world. This year give Presence,’ which I thinks nicely sums up another one of those big church words we like to use – incarnation.

So being an Advent conspirator is not about being a pious spoil sport: railing against all shopping, celebrating, and gift-giving.  It’s not a ‘bah, humbug’ at decorations, parties, even Santa Claus (although I have to draw the line at the ubiquitous Christmas carols in every store and restaurant; enough already!). What it is is a call to embrace the fullness of the holy-day, to: ‘Worship Fully; Spend Less; Give More; Love All’.

I’m also a big fan of the Rev. James Forbes, pastor emeritus of Riverside Church in NYC. How I wish I could preach like that!  As Advent approaches, with its admonition to “keep awake!” I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember a sermon I heard him give some 25 years ago. It was about the ‘7 Ups’ of faith. And in spite of the fact that Dr. Forbes generally preaches only from notes, and thanks to some pretty impressive Googling, if I do say so myself, I found a reference.

The 7 Ups are:
1. Wake up – from denial, unreality
2. Get up – act on inspiration when God provides it
3. Wise up – figure out God’s will
4. Catch up – practice spiritual discipline
5. Sober up – clear your mind of biases and prejudices that interfere with faith
6. Fill up – with God’s spirit
7. Link up – “we need peer support, not peer pressure.”

Even though the sermon was not preached during Advent, I think it’s pretty good marching orders for the Advent Conspiracy, especially #7: ‘Link Up.’  And if someone warns you against being part of a conspiracy, remind them that ‘conspire’ literally means to breathe together and has the same etymology as ‘spirit’. How cool is that?!

So – come, conspire with me, breathe with me, and ‘get up’ to the spirit of Advent. It’s so much better than “Bah, humbug!”




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